Raya Dunayevskaya. 1978
1978 is the 25th anniversary of the first convention of the state-capitalist tendency as an independent organization in the U.S..1 As I reflect upon that fact today because it was also the last of a united Johnson-Forest Tendency, it is not, as previously, in order "to set the record straight".2 That is to say, it not to establish the fact that my 1953 Letters3 on the Absolute Ideaa had laid the philosophic foundations which would develop the Tendency into Marxist-Humanism, because I saw inherent in the Absolute Idea not only a unity of theory and practice, but a movement from practice which was itself a form of theory - an achievement the co-founder of the Tendency, C.L.R. James (J.R. Johnson), had proved incapable of doing. Rather, it is that in the process of looking back at 1953, I realized that the beginnings of the division in Johnson-Forest had begun to emerge in 1949-50 with my translation of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks (specifically his Abstract of Hegel's Science of Logic).4
It is true, of course - of that there is no shadow of doubt - that, both objectively and subjectively, 1953 was a great historic Turning Point. In March came the death of Stalin, and this signalled the lifting of an incubus from the head of the proletariat. In June came the first-ever revolt from under Russian Communist totalitarianism in East Germany,5 and with it, a new stage of cognition which, with the Hungarian Revolution, had clearly reconnected with what Marx's new continent of thought originally called itself: "a new Humanism".6 1953 was also the year the Korean War ended, and it was soon followed by the Bandung Afro-Asian conference which signalled the birth of a Third World, to develop by the end of the decade with African and Latin American dimensions.7
That is precisely the point. Why didn't the united Johnson-Forest Tendency meet the challenge of the times as the decade first opened when, at one and the same time, there was the Miners' General Strike,b in which I was actively involved8 and "happened" also to be translating, for the first time into English, Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks9? Why did it take James from February 18 to June 18, 1949 to so much as acknowledge receiving the translation which he had never before read in full? Why couldn't the Johnson-Forest Tendency, as a united tendency, work out the philosophic ramifications of the economic analysis of state-capitalism as the absolute contradiction which was producing a movement from practice in the specificity of that revolt against the latest stage of production, later to be called Automation? And why had Grace Lee Boggs (Ria Stone), the other leader of the Tendency - who, once the three-way correspondence had developed, focused on how very much the Doctrine of the Notion is "our task" to work out - reverted back to the Doctrine of Essence where she stopped with Contradiction? That became the core of "The Philosophy of State Capitalism"10 that she wrote for the last theoretical (1950) document, State-Capitalism and World Revolution, that we submitted to the Socialist Workers Party.
Neither the co-founder of the state-capitalist tendency, James, nor the other leader of the tendency, Grace Lee, who was the professional philosopher, were philosophic lightweights. She was, as far back as 1947, the first to translate Marx's Economic-Philosophic Manuscripts, 184411. We announced that "our translator" would follow up the translation with an analysis of Marx's Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic. While this was never done and, instead, we concentrated on the other Essay, Alienated Labor, C.L.R. James did, in 1948, embark on his own extensive "Notes on the Dialectic" (then called the "Nevada Document").12
In 1949, a correspondence began, lasting nearly two years, on my translation of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks.13 No matter what else was tackled, which I will develop in full later, all of us stressed the fact that it was the Doctrine of the Notion where Lenin made his great breakthrough of the dialectic for his age of imperialism. Building on Lenin's concretization of the principle of transformation into opposite from the Doctrine of the Notion, we would need to go the full length, to the Absolute Idea, to work out the problems of our age.
Yet, once we had to face Trotskyism with political resolutions and present a summation of the whole decade of our work on the theory of state-capitalism - State Capitalism and World Revolution14 - we instead, limited ourselves once again to the category of Contradiction. That seems to me most peculiar now, since Contradiction (that is to say, the class struggle) was the category which the Second International15 was founded on and which even it followed until it betrayed in 1914. Contradiction reappeared in our age with Mao who introduced new deviations by making it "primary" only in the "final analysis".16
Lenin, on the other hand, in breaking with his own philosophic past and preparing for actual proletarian revolution, had certainly gone far beyond Contradiction to an appreciation of Hegel's concept of the Idea, not only as "the very best on the dialectic," but also the unity of the objective and the subjective in outright revolution. The three of the Johnson-Forest Tendency had certainly recognized that much and, concretely on the ongoing Miners' General Strike, felt that the new stage of revolt had begun. Why, then, not also a new stage of cognition? It becomes necessary to retrace the sequence of the letters.c
The letters began on Feb, 18, 1949, as I sent a covering note for each part of Lenin's Abstract, beginning of course with his notes on the Preface, Introduction, and Doctrine of Being. I called attention to the fact that what James had referred to as central in Lenin - the early recognition of "Leaps" rather than gradualness - had appeared in Measure, that is, at the end of the first book: "You will enjoy the notes on Being, which you practically skipped over in your hurry to get to Essence. It seemed to me one of the reasons was the necessity to begin with simplest categories, because both in philosophy, economics, politics and what have you, those simple categories 'contain in germ the whole'."17 I then proceeded to back up the point by quoting Lenin, who focused on the fact that in Hegel "Not only Wesen (Essence), but also Schein (Show) are objective. Even the distinction between subjective and objective has its limits".
I also called attention to the profundity Lenin showed in his attitude to Appearance by having his book on Imperialism subtitled "A Popular Outline"18, and by Lenin's special emphasis on Method as "the dialectic which it has in itself". Lenin had referred to Capital as illustrative of what Hegel means by a Universal when it is not "a mere abstract Universal, but as a Universal which comprises in itself the full wealth of Particulars". Further, I added, by being concrete, it is not only the objective condition of Marx's time, and the present Imperialist age, but the "ideology of the Bernsteins, Kautskys and, yes, Rosa Luxemburg since in that very period he also made notes on her book.19 What rich years were 1914-1916 for Lenin in his 'study room'!".
I end by focusing on the fact that Lenin was beginning to appreciate "self-development of the concepts", no matter how "idealistic" they sound: "Hegel analyzes concepts which usually appear dead and he shows that there is movement in them. The finite? That means movement has come to an end! Something? That means not what Other is, Being in general? That means such indeterminateness that Being=Not-Being..."
I asked James to be patient about how soon I would be able to do the follow-up, i.e., the translation of the Notes on Essence, as "I do this between many other activities". But since I continued with translation far into the night, I sent the translation of Lenin's Notes on the Doctrine of Essence the very next week (Feb, 25).20 Among the many significant commentaries by Lenin on Essence, I singled out the fact that Lenin was making a special category about the sequence of the dates of publication of Logic (1813), Marx's Communist Manifesto (1847), and Darwin's Origin of the Species (1859).21 I then continued: "Whoever is still so fool-hardy as to look for a 'primary cause' may do so if he has enough time to waste; Lenin will have none of that - he will have only totality and movement and break-up and movement". Lenin returns to Appearance and Kantian impenetrability of thing-in-itself by saying: "You include all the manifold riches of the world in Schein and you reject the objectivity of Schein!!" Continuing with his appreciation of Hegel's emphasis that Essence, too, must appear, Lenin writes: "The little philosophers dispute whether one should take as basis the essence or the immediately given... Hegel substitutes 'and' for 'or' and explains the concrete content with this 'and'".
At this stage, Lenin also breaks with his previous concept of Causality, seeing that what is cause becomes what is effect, and vice versa, and presses home the concept of totality, spelling it out as ten "moments", beginning with "unity of show and existence" and ending with "totality, wholeness is richer than law". And Lenin tells himself: "Must return here!" Lenin's appreciation of Hegel is also soon in the way he underlines something that Hegel didn't in this case, totality as "sundered completeness". My commentary continued: "What a dialectician Hegel was: nothing else can explain the sheer genius of Hegel's language which defines identity as 'unseparated difference' and totality as 'sundered completeness'". I end with: "The emphasis is Lenin's, which shows he was not going to be outdone by a man who lived and died long before WWI."
On March 12,22 I concluded the translation, sending Lenin's Notes on the Doctrine of the Notion, which is where Lenin concluded that none could understand Capital who had not studied the whole of the Logic. I evidently was becoming conscious of differences between Lenin's and James's "versions" of the dialectic. The covering note to the last part of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks stated: "Let me say at the start that although you have entered into this 'conspiracy' with Lenin, the outstanding difference between the two 'versions' (of the Dialectic) is striking. You will note that Lenin's notes on the Notion are as lengthy as those on the Introduction, and Doctrines of Being and Essence combined... although you spent that much time on Notion, and included its practice, the thing you chose most to stop at and say: hic Rhodus, hic salta23 to was the Law of Contradiction in Essence... (but Lenin) chooses to single out the section on the Idea". I proceeded to cite Lenin's 16-point definition of the dialectic which shows that by then Lenin no longer "feared" the Absolute, seeing it both as unity of theoretical and practical idea, as the method of absolute cognition, and as criticism of all Marxists, including himself: "Aphorism: Marxists criticized the Kantians and Humists at the beginning of the 20th century more in the Feuerbachian (and Buchnerian) than in a Hegelian manner". The emphasis on the plural (Marxists) is Lenin's: it precedes the remark against Plekhanov.d
No word came from James on any of this. On May 14, 1949,24 I nevertheless returned to the one-way correspondence by (1) citing Krupskaya's Memoirs25 on those critical years, 1914-1916, in Lenin's development: (2) calling attention to Doborin's Introduction to Lenin's Notebooks as they were first published in 1929 (Leninski Sbornik, IX), and to Adoratsky's Preface to the 1933 edition of Lenin's Notebooks (Leninski Sbornik, XII): as well as (3) pointing to the fact that the Lenin Institute recorded that on Nov, 30, 1920, Lenin asked for the Russian translation of Hegel's Science of Logic - not to mention the letter he sent to the editors of the new magazine, Under the Banner of Marxism, asking them to consider themselves to be "Materialist Friends of Hegelian Dialectics" and to quote Hegel extensively.
Three days later, I wrote James again,26 this time because I was delving into Lenin's Notebooks on Imperialism27 and finding that he had also been reading Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind28. He was very clearly separating himself from all others who had written on Imperialism, not only the bourgeois Hobson (1902), but the revolutionaries Hilferding (1910), and Rosa Luxemburg's Accumulation of Capital (1913), about which he had evidently intended to write an article.29 Moreover, he had evidently also become dissatisfied with his own essay on "Karl Marx" that he had written for the Granat Encyclopaedia30 before he had completed his study of the Science of Logic, and now wanted them to return it to him for ending on the dialectic.e
I then both singled out all of Lenin's references to Capital as he was reading the Science of Logic and showed how very concrete Lenin always was, whether in 1915-1916 as he was preparing to write Imperialism and State and Marxism (which was to become State and Revolution31 in 1917), or after he got to power and still used the dialectic in his Critical Notes on Bukharin's Economics of the Transition Period.32
While James and Grace still did not acknowledge either Lenin's Notebooks or my covering letters, they did, on May 27, 1949, have a discussion between themselves. Here is how it read: "Previous to 1914 the whole revolutionary movement, the Second International and all the rest of them were essentially in the Realm of Being. Even Lenin before 1914 was not very conscious of Essence, although objective situation in Russia drove him to the Logic. The key to Lenin's notes on Logic is this relation to Essence. We today have not only to do Essence, but also Notion, the dialectic of the party". Lenin, they claimed, "is more concerned with self-movement than he is with Notion."33
It is very nearly beyond comprehension to find how they could make such a claim in face of the fact that Lenin's commentary on the Doctrine of the Notion was more comprehensive than what Lenin had written on all the rest of the Logic combined.f In truth, as early as the Preface and Introduction, before he ever got into the Science of Logic "proper", Lenin called attention to the fact that the three categories of Notion - Universal, Particular, Individual - were precisely where Marx "flirted" with Hegel, especially in Chapter 1 of Capital. Which is why, when Lenin made his own leaps, he insisted that no Marxist had understood Capital, "especially Chapter 1" unless he had studied the whole of Logic.
Perhaps we can understand part of the reason why when we read the letter where James first finally, on June 10, 1949, [got?] to acknowledge the translation of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks and my commentaries. He wrote: "You are covering a lot of ground and it is pretty good. But after conversations with G & reading (carefully, this time) your correspondence, I feel that we are still off the point...".34 Clearly, it is not I with whom they disagreed as hotly as they did with Lenin. Indeed, they had not the slightest notion of what Lenin was talking about until July 9, when finally Grace did get down to the Doctrine of Notion as Lenin worked it out.35 Between that June 10, when James finally got to read me "carefully this time", they were preoccupied with their own great philosophic knowledge, James stressing, on June 19* as he is writing to Grace, criticizing her for abstractness, that "After weeks of painful back and forth, in and out, you and I bearing the burden..."36
But, whatever "burden" they were bearing, it certainly wasn't comprehension of Lenin's Abstract of Hegel's Science of Logic, though James continued to tell me precisely how many words I was to write on Capital, how many on Logic (1,000 words on each topic!). I plunged into a concrete study of differences in Lenin, pre- and post-1914, and then into how the dialectic affected the varying structural changes in Capital, as well as the objective development of capitalist production from the end of the 19th century to the present.***
Finally, on July 9, 1949, Grace began seriously to go at Lenin's Notebooks as well as, Hegel's Doctrine of the Notion: "In the final section on Essence (Causality) and the beginning of the section on Notion, Lenin breaks with this kind (Kantian) of inconsistent empiricism. He sees the limitation of the scientific method, e.g., the category of causality to explain the relation between mind and matter. Freedom, subjectivity, notion - those are the categories by which we will gain knowledge of the objectively real". She continues: "I am writing these notes with the Logic and with Lenin's Notes on the Notion before me. In both you sense this plunge into Freedom".37
She proceeded to analyze the major categories on the Doctrine of the Notion - the Universal, Particular, Individual - showing that the whole structure, as well as each separate part of the Science of Logic, was grounded in them. This was spelled out especially clearly in her letter of September 4, 1949. And, having made a leap in cognition, she became most concrete regarding Lenin, on the one hand, especially as it related to Imperialism, and, on the other hand, as a critique of Bukharin. I am not now sure whether one fragment I have of that critique is part of a letter she had written to James on Bukharin's Historical Materialism38 at the end of May or early June, or in August-September when she had dug into the Doctrine of Notion. But the key section I remember clearly:
"Now for some abstract observations: I think Bukharin is using the method of thought of Essence - Identity, Opposition, ground, all going to absolute substance. Then, at the end, the proletariat takes over this absolute substance.
"Development is the absolute mediation of Universal, particular and singular.
"Isn't this the Logic of Self-determination when growing internationalization
"Destruction of state machine when bourgeois state has reached highest stage of organization?..."
Now, compare this clarity on self-determination with what we wrote in State-Capitalism and World Revolution as we skipped over the stage of unfolding national revolutions: "the struggle for national independence since World War II is an illusion and cannot fail to have reactionary consequences".
How can there possibly be such retreats, i.e., how can opposite positions be taken in what we worked out philosophically, when we weren't writing a "Resolution" and when we were? Upon reflection, it appears that, had it been worked out seriously, that is to say, not just abstractly but concretely, that couldn't have happened. But then that is speculation - no one can tell what is going on in another's mind - and I do not appreciate any indulgence in speculation. What I do know, for sure, is that with the outbreak of the Korean War, June, 1950, and the Trotskyists once again tailending Stalinism, the Johnson-Forest Tendency felt it imperative to leave the SWP once and for all.g
The whole subjective post-World War II situation, which looked so ripe for revolution in the 1940s, was once again plunged into a new war. The fact that the superpowers, U.S. imperialism, and the only other power that remained standing on its feat, Russia, were fighting through surrogates couldn't possibly hide the state-capitalist nature of our age, with the two Big Powers fighting for single world mastery. All the more did it become imperative, I thought, to work out all philosophic ramifications and not allow our analysis of state-capitalism to remain at essence of economics. In any case I continued to work at philosophy as I began to develop the research I had been doing for years on "Marxism and State-Capitalism", the book that was to become Marxism and Freedom. I proposed two new points of departure: (1) Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks, and (2) the American proletariat as seen in the Miners' General Strike of 1949-19.h 39
Not only was it unforgettable as an "experience", but it did not appear to me that it could possibly be separated from the philosophic problems we had been tackling, oven if we evidently were unable to work out the Absolute Idea. So, while we were experimenting in mimeographed form with a workers' paper, called Correspondence, I continued work on the projected book.
Everything changed in 1953 with Stalin's death in March. Not only was I writing politically on that event, but I decided also to try out the analysis of the 1920-21 Trade Union debate between Lenin and Trotsky, in the context of the 1950s and, again, with the American proletariat's attitude to those events.40 The Correspondence special was called "Then and Now", and was distributed at factory gates.41 By May, 1953, I not only returned to the Absolute Idea in Science of Logic and tackled also Absolute Knowledge in Phenomenology of Mind, but also plunged into Absolute Mind in Philosophy of Mind, from which C.L.R. James had said "he got nothing". The Letters on the Absolute Idea got an enthusiastic response from Grace who declared them to be "our Philosophic Notebooks".42 She was then in California, while I was in Detroit preparing for our convention in July, 1953, while James was in New York. James, once again, as in 1949-50, said nothing for months. Not only that. This time, he called Grace back to New York, and convinced her that the Letters should not be discussed "now".
Within six weeks of my Letters, an actual proletarian revolt had broken out spontaneously, and inside a state-capitalist land calling itself Communist - East Germany. This June 17, 1953 revolt, which signalled a new age was followed by the Beria purge, and once again I returned to "politics", writing the lead for the very first issue of the published Correspondence, October, 1953.43 McCarthyism was in full swing and it took less than a year for us to be "listed." By then, Johnson was in England,44 but still "The Leader", and instigating the break-up of the Johnson-Forest Tendency. What was great about that was that it permitted us to work out those philosophic ramifications so that, instead of just "state-capitalist tendency", we became Marxist-Humanists. The very first mimeographed pamphlet we published was Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks, but it took another two years of not finding a publisher,i for it, along with Marx's Humanist Essays, to be printed as Appendices to Marxism and Freedom... from 1776 until today.
* * * *
a For the Letters on the Absolute Idea, see Sec, I, Vol, VI, "Creation of Marxist-Humanist Tendency", of the Raya Dunayevskaya Collection, available on microfilm from the Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs, Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 48202.
b See Sec, II, Vol, V of the Collection for minutes of the special Tri-State (West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio) meeting of the SWP and discussion with F. Forest on the strike, Feb, 26, 1950, on file at the Archives.
c The Letters are now available on microfilm. See Vol, XIII of the Collection, "Raya Dunayevskaya, C.L.R. James and Grace Lee (Boggs): Philosophic Correspondence, 1949-1951".
d See Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 38, p.277: "To be elaborated: Plekhanov wrote on philosophy (dialectics) probably about 1,000 pages (Beltov + against Bogdanov + against the Kantians + fundamental questions, etc., etc.). Among them, about the larger Logic, in connection with it, its thought (i.e., dialectics proper, as philosophical science) nil!!
e For detailed development of Lenin's break with his philosophic past, see "Lenin and the Dialectic: A Mind in Action," Section 1, Ch, 10 (pp. 167-172) in Marxism and Freedom, and "The Shock of Recognition and the Philosophic Ambivalence of Lenin", Ch. 3 (pp. 95-120) in Philosophy and Revolution, where I also deal with the latest Russian philosopher Kodrov's "explanation" of what Lenin "really meant" by writing: "Alias: Man's cognition not only reflects the objective world, but creates it".
f And on that section, no place was greater than that devoted to Absolute Idea, a fact for which Althusser has not yet "forgiven" Lenin. (See Lenin and Philosophy, pp. 116-120).
g State-Capitalism and World Revolution was dated August 4, 1950, but we did not actually leave the SWP until August 2, 1951. At that time, instead of sending in a document for debate, we simply handed in an article entitled, "The Balance Sheet Completed", and walked out. Although the article contained my name and several others, it was written by Johnson. I had handed in, on June 5, for the SWP Discussion Bulletin, an answer to W. Warde and J.G. Wright's critique of our Resolution, which was titled "The Revolt of the Workers and the Plan of the Intellectuals". This, as well as another article, written May 21, on "The International Situation in the Fourth International", were included in the Bulletin which the Tendency published as "The Balance Sheet Completed".
h When I wrote Marxism and Freedom (1957), the final chapter (XVI), Automation and the New Humanism" (pp. 266-287) was given to miners to discuss. The Black dimension came out so sharply that it made it possible to relate the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the Hungarian Revolution and the rebirth of Marx's Humanism. In the Preface I called attention to the new way of producing the book: "Because we live in an age of absolutes - on the threshold of absolute freedom out of the struggle against absolute tyranny - the compelling need for a new unity of theory and practice dictates a new method of writing. At least, it dictated the method by which this book was written". (See the many writings on the Black dimension in the Raya Dunayevskaya Collection in WSU Labor History Archives Library).
i I tried to give my translations "free" both to the SWP, which considered the Notebooks hardly more than "scribbles", "too rough and incomplete", and to Columbia University's Russian Institute, which said none would be interested in Lenin's "philosophy", only his politics.
* The dating must be wrong since reference is to something I wrote on June 20.
** See especially my letters of June 20, July 6, July 20 and July 25, 1949.
1 The Johnson-Forest Tendency, (or State-Capitalist Tendency), was a grouping in the American Trotskyist movement in the 1940s. It was named after the two leading intellectual figures that founded the Johnson-Forest Tendency (JFT); CLR James (party pseudonym J. R. Johnson) and Raya Dunayevskaya (party pseudonym Freddie Forest). Shortly after forming, they were joined by the third key intellectual influence in the JFT, Grace Lee (Boggs). They were a formally recognised Tendency within the (American) Workers' Party, (1941-1947), and then the (American) Socialist Workers' Party (1947-1951). They played a key role in reviving the Hegelian roots of Marxism. They developed a critique of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) as a state-capitalist society. And they developed a critique of the idea of the vanguard party, as a party to lead the masses to freedom. They played a leading role, within American Trotskyism, in promoting the Black struggle for freedom as an integral part of the workers struggle to overthrow capitalism. They were directly involved in a number of workers' struggles, including in the US Coal Miners' General Strike (1949-50). In 1951 they split organisationally with the Trotskyist movement and established their own organisation, Correspondence Committees (CC). The CC published a fortnightly publication, Correspondence, initially as an internal mimeographed bulletin, (from November 1951 to June 1953 - a selection of these articles can be found in the MIA archive), and then as a printed newspaper (from October 1953 - selected issues in the MIA archive). The CC held their first Convention in 1953.
In 1955 the JFT themselves had an organisational split. Approximately half of the JFT left, with Dunayevskaya, to form the News and Letters Committees, who established the newspaper News & Letters. James and Lee continued to collaborate, for a few more years. Then in 1961 they split. Lee, (now Grace Lee-Boggs, after her marriage to James Boggs), and James Boggs maintained control of the CC and the members who remained loyal to James formed a group called Facing Reality.
In 1947, as they were preparing to leave the Workers' Party, and rejoin the Socialist Workers' Party, the Johnson-Forest Tendency wrote up their assessment of the American Trotskyist movement, focusing on the theory and activity of the Workers' Party. The document, Trotskyism in the United States, 1940-1947: A Balance Sheet is available on the MIA.
2 This is a reference to the pamphlet For the Record, published by News and Letters Committees in 1972. The pamphlet was published in response to the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) affiliated magazine, Radical America, publicly proclaiming support for CLR James. Dunayevskaya sought to 'set the record straight' by challenging what she viewed as CLR James's rewriting of the history of the development of the theory of state-capitalism in the US.
3 The '1953 Letters' were written by Dunayevskaya as part of an ongoing philosophical correspondence between CLR James, Grace Lee (Boggs) and herself, on, (amongst other things), Hegel, Lenin's Philosophical Notebooks on Hegel and the type of organisation that the Correspondence Committees should strive to be. Dunayevskaya viewed these two letters, written in May 1953, as providing the philosophical foundations for the development of Marxist-Humanism, which she viewed as a renewal and extension of Marx's Humanism. The first pamphlet that the newly formed News and Letters Committee published, in November 1955, contained extracts from Dunayevskaya's translation of Lenin's Philosophical Notebooks and her two '1953 Letters'.
4 A collection of thirty-five letters, from the 1949-51 three-way correspondence, between Dunayevksaya, James and Lee, (focused on Dunayevskaya's translation of Lenin's Philosophical Notebooks), are available, in pdf format, on the MIA.
5 In March 1953, Stalin died. In May, June and July 1953 workers in East Germany rose up in revolt against 'Communist' authoritarian rule. Dunayevskaya was excited by these revolts and said of them, that 'the German workers smashed the myth that the totalitarian state is invincible.
6 In October 1956, Hungarian workers rose up and overthrew the Stalinist government and established a new government, which lasted for eighteen days before being crushed following military intervention from the USSR. The Hungarian Revolution provided proof not only that workers were willing and able to fight back against authoritarian 'Communist' rule, but could do so while calling for a genuine, workers-led, communist society. The lead taken by workers in Eastern Europe was followed by some dissident intellectuals. The most notable of these were the Praxis Group of Yugoslav dissident intellectuals who argued for a Humanist Marxist alternative to Stalinist dogma and authoritarianism. Dunayevskaya wrote articles on the Hungarian Revolution for News & Letters, and included a section on the East European revolts (Chapter XV The Beginning of the End of Russian Totalitarianism) in her first major work, Marxism and Freedom (1958).
7 The Bandung Conference was the world's first ever large-scale Asian-African or Afro-Asian Conference, which met against the backdrop of the Cold War and the division of the world between the two global superpowers, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The meeting, between Asian and African states, most of which were newly independent, took place on 18-24 April 1955 in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. The twenty-nine countries that participated represented a majority (estimated 54%) of the world's population. The conference was organized by Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Pakistan and it was coordinated by Ruslan Abdulgani, secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. The conference's stated aims were to promote Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism or neocolonialism by any nation (whether the USA/West or the USSR). The conference was an important step towards the eventual creation of the Non-Aligned Movement, (of states that attempted to stay independent of either the USA or USSR).
8 The 1949-50 Miner's General Strike was a nine month long strike, by mine workers in West Virginia, that was sparked off by the introduction of automation into the mines. The introduction of the automated miner, both increased the dangers of working in the mines and threatened to reduce the number of miners employed in each mine. The strike pitted the miners against the mine owners, the government, the press and the leadership of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), and benefited from the active involvement of miners' wives in solidarity activity. The strike was initially supported by John L. Lewis, the UMWA President, who was considered to be one of the most militant union leaders in the USA at the time. When Lewis ordered the men back to work, however, the miners voted against this, and stayed out. This action cut them off from UMWA funds. The miners then established relief committees and sent delegates off to get rank and file relief across the USA. These relief efforts raised food, clothing and thousands of dollars in cash support. They enabled the striking miners to sustain the strike and win significant concessions. Dunayevskaya reported on the strikes from West Virginia, for the Socialist Workers' Party newspaper, The Militant (Vol. XIV, No. 6, No. 11, & No. 18). In 1984, one of the striking miners, Andy Phillips, and Dunayevskaya collaborated in writing a pamphlet on this historic, but often overlooked, strike.
9 Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks is a reference to Notes that Lenin made on Hegel's Science of Logic ' and on Hegel's Lectures on the History of Philosophy. These notes were written in Berne, Switzerland, following the outbreak of World War I. The betrayal of the leaders of the Second International, in either supporting or being quiescent on their national ruling-classes going to war, profoundly shook Lenin. He tried to understand the philosophical foundations of this betrayal by reading Hegel, in an attempt to better understand Marx. His reading of Hegel led him to a radically different understanding of Marx, perhaps most notoriously summed up in his 'aphorism that 'It is impossible completely to understand Marx's Capital, and especially its first Chapter, without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel's Logic. Consequently, half a century later none of the Marxists understood Marx!!' (this latter point, by implication, applied to Lenin, pre-1914, too).
In 1949 Dunayevskaya produced the first ever English translation of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks, from the original Russian. A first draft of this translation was produced as an internal document for the JFT, and formed the basis for some discussions between Dunayevskaya, James and Lee. The newly formed News and Letters Committee published extracts from Dunayevskaya's translation, in November 1955. Extracts were also published in the appendices of the first edition of Marxism and Freedom (1958).
10 This is a reference to Chapter 11 of State Capitalism and World Revolution. The document was co-written by James, Lee and Dunayevskaya and published as an internal discussion Bulletin for the Socialist Workers' Party.
11 The collection of documents commonly referred to as Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (EPM), (or alternatively as Marx's Paris Manuscripts), were written by Marx while in exile in Paris. They were written as notes, for the purpose of self-clarification, and were not intended for publication. They are fragmentary, and sections are missing and have not been located. They are, however, widely recognised as a hugely important element in Marx's oeuvre. The Footnotes to the Progress Publishers (Moscow) English language edition, for example, note that the EPM were 'the first work in which Marx tried to systematically elaborate problems of political economy from the standpoint of his maturing dialectical-materialist and communist views and also to synthesise the results of his critical review of prevailing philosophic and economic theories'. The author of the Footnotes also claims that 'in the process of working on it he [Marx] conceived the idea of publishing a work analysing the economic system of bourgeois society in his time and its ideological trends. Towards the end of his stay in Paris, on February 1, 1845, Marx signed a contract with Carl Leske, a Darmstadt publisher, concerning the publication of his work entitled A Critique of Politics and of Political Economy. It was to be based on his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844'.
The EPM have been the subject of debate between different 'schools' of Marxism. Marxists, who emphasise the fundamental importance of Hegel in Marx's thought, (such as Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Istvan Meszaros and Cyril Smith), point to an underlying continuity between the EPM and later works, such as Capital. Structuralist Marxists, such as Louis Althusser, argue that the EPM are an important early work of the 'young' Marx, who was breaking from the influence of Hegelian idealism. They distinguish between a 'young' 'Hegelian-idealist' Marx and a 'mature', (in works such as Capital), 'dialectical materialist' Marx.
The EPM were unknown works before 1932, when they were published by the Moscow-based Marx-Engels Institute. Herbert Marcuse, in The Foundation of Historical Materialism (1932), was one of the first to argue for their significance. He said that the publication of the EPM 'must become a crucial event in the history of Marxist studies. These manuscripts could put the discussion about the origins and original meaning of historical materialism, and the entire theory of 'scientific socialism', on a new footing. They also make it possible to pose the question of the actual connections between Marx and Hegel in a more fruitful and promising way'. Even after publication, however, there were very few copies of the EPM in circulation. So, they remained largely unknown.
Dunayevskaya appears to have read them in, and translated parts into English from, the Marx-Engels Institute's version in Russian. She cited extracts in her 1942 essay 'Labor and Society', which was written as an introduction to her articles on the nature of the economy of the USSR. These articles were published in the New International, (theoretical journal of the Workers Party), in late 1942 and early 1943. The editors, however, declined to publish the section 'Labor and Society'. The JFT were the first people to publish significant parts of the EPM in English, in mimeographed form in 1947. They were translated from the German original by Grace Lee (Boggs). Significant sections of the EPM were published as appendices to the first edition of Dunayevskaya's Marxism and Freedom, in 1958. The first full translation into English was published in Moscow, by Progress Publishers, in 1959.
12 The 'Nevada Document', was written by CLR James in late 1948. Each chapter consists of James's analysis of sections of Hegel's Science of Logic, alongside a discussion of the relevance of Hegel's insights to understanding the development of the Trotksyist movement and the current state of the revolutionary Left and the working class, particularly in the USA. It was written as an internal discussion document and circulated, chapter-by-chapter as each was written, amongst the JFT membership. It circulated, in mimeographed form, amongst the various organisations that James played a leadership role in. It was eventually published, with a new introduction by James, as Notes on Dialectics: Hegel, Marx, Lenin (1980), by Allison and Busby in London and Lawrence Hill in the USA.
13 This three-way correspondence - between Dunayevskaya, Grace Lee (Boggs) and CLR James - began with Dunayevskaya's translation of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks. These discussions covered a lot of ground, including discussions on: Lenin's pamphlet, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916); Lenin's notes for Imperialism; dialectics in Hegel, Lenin and Marx, and; Marx's Capital. Dunayevskaya collated 35 letters from this correspondence and deposited them in her Archive.
14 Johnson-Forest (CLR James, Raya Dunayevskaya & Grace Lee), State Capitalism and World Revolution (1950). First published as Discussion Bulletin No. 4 of the Socialist Workers Party.
15 Karl Marx was one of the founding members of the First International, (The International Workingmen's Association), which split into anarchist and socialist wings in 1872, following the defeat of the Paris Commune (1871). The socialist wing was eventually dissolved in 1876. In the 1880s there were various attempts to reconstitute an international socialist umbrella organisation. The Second International can be dated from either the 1889 or the 1891 International Socialist Congresses (depending on what criteria you use). Representatives of all the major socialist (Social Democratic) parties in existence in this period attended these Congresses, which met every three years or so. The outbreak of the First World War threw the Second (Social Democratic) International into crisis. The organisation eventually split, with supporters of war efforts having a controlling majority in the Second International, and opponents of war efforts leaving the organisation. Many of the opponents of the war efforts went on to support the Russian Revolution (1917) and the setting up of the Third (Communist) International.
16 Dunayevskaya is most likely referring to a speech by Mao Tse-tung, given to the 11th Chinese Supreme State Conference, in February 1957. The speech, entitled 'On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People', was claimed to be a development of Mao's 1937 philosophical work, On Contradiction. The authorship and dating of the 1937 work have been the subject of some dispute. (The terms 'primary' and 'final analysis'Ědo not appear in the English translations of these texts that are currently available on the MIA). Commentary by Dunayevskaya on Mao and contradiction can be found in Chapter 6 of Marxism and Freedom (1958) and in a Letter to Olga Domanski, in 1957.
17 Letter from Raya Dunayevskaya to CLR James on Lenin's Notebooks on Hegel's Science of Logic, (Doctrine of Being), Feb, 18, 1949.
18 Lenin, 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism: A Popular Outline, 1916.
19 Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932) and Karl Kautsky (1854-1938) were two of the most senior figures in the Second International. Bernstein had collaborated with Engels, and became his literary executor when Engels died in 1895. After Engels' death he began to advocate a reformist revision of Marx, a stance which was vigorously debated by members of the Second International. Kautsky, who was considered by many to be a leading theorist of the Second International, (and was a major influence on Lenin prior to 1914), opposed Bernstein's revisionism (see e.g. 'Bernstein's old articles and new afflictions'). At the outbreak of World War I, both Kautsky and Berstein equivocated on the issue of opposing the war. After the war they became part of the right-wing of the German Social Democratic Party.
Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) helped establish the Polish Social Democratic Party, and became a leading figure in the German Social Democratic Party. She was on the left-wing of the party, and left the Party at the outbreak of the war, to help set up the anti-war party, the Spartacus League. She was a complex figure, that Dunayevskaya both admired, and was critical of. Both facets of which can be seen in Dunayevskaya's third major book, Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution, 1981).
20 Letter from Dunayevskaya to James on Lenin's Notebooks on Hegel's Science of Logic, (Doctrine of Essence), Feb 25, 1949.
21 GWF Hegel Science of Logic, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels Manifesto of the Communist Party, Charles Darwin Origin of the Species.
22 Letter from Dunayevskaya to James on Lenin's Notebooks on Hegel's Science of Logic, (Doctrine of Notion), March 12, 1949.
23 'Hic Rhodus, hic salta' (Latin) is a quote from Aesop's Fables. It is used to express the idea that people should be known by their deeds, rather than by the claims they make for themselves. The quote, and allusions to it, appear in several places in Marx's writings.
24 Letter from Dunayevskaya to James on "circumstances surrounding" Lenin's Notebooks, May 14, 1949.
25 Nadezhda Krupskaya (1869-1939) was a Russian revolutionary, writer, educator and Secretary of the Bolshevik Faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party. She was also wife and advisor to V.I. Lenin. Her Reminiscences of Lenin (1933) was a retrospective recollection, covering the period from when she first met Lenin (1897), up to the October Revolution (1917).
26 Letter from Dunayevskaya to James on Lenin and the "actualization of the dialectic proper", May 17, 1949.
27 Lenin, 'Notebooks on Imperialism (1915-16).
28 GWF Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind (1807), the title of this work has also been translated into English as Phenomenology of Spirit.
29 John A. Hobson (1858-1940), was an English journalist whose writings on British Imperialism, particularly his book Imperialism: A study (1902), provided source material, and a stimulus to thinking, for Lenin's book on Imperialism. Rudolph Hilferding (1877-1941), was a significant figure in the German Social Democratic Party prior to World War I. He took a pacifist stance on the War. He was the author of Finance Capital: A Study of the Latest Phase of Capitalist Development (1910), which was another one of the key sources that Lenin drew on for his book on Imperialism. Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), was a major figure in Second International. She was one of the few major figures in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) who actively opposed World War I as an imperialist war. She broke with the SPD over its leadership's stance on the War. Her major work on Marx and political economy, The Accumulation of Capital (1913), was influential amongst her Marxist contemporaries, but 'criticised by Lenin.
30 Lenin, 'Karl Marx: A Brief Biographical Sketch With an Exposition of Marxism (1915).
31 Lenin, 'State & Revolution (1917).
32 The editor of this MIA edition has been unable to track down this reference to Lenin's 'Critical notes on Bukharin'. Nikolai Bukharin (1888-1938) was a leading Bolshevik, who worked with Lenin and Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) in exile, before 1917. Lenin, in his Last Testament, (1922/23), described Bukharin as: 'not only the most valuable and biggest theoretician of the party, but also may legitimately be considered the favorite of the whole party; but his theoretical views can only with the very greatest doubt be regarded as fully Marxian, for there is something scholastic in him (he never has learned, and I think never fully understood the dialectic).' After Lenin's death Bukharin sided with Stalin against Trotksy, but he fell out of favour with Stalin when he spoke out against the forced collectivisation of agriculture (a policy he feared would undermine the New Economic Policy).
33 Notes from a discussion between CLR James and Grace Lee. May 27, 1949.
34 Letter from James to Dunayevskaya. June 10, 1949.
35 Letter from Lee to James on Lenin and Bukharin; the Taylor system. July 9, 1949.
36 Letter from James to Lee on Lenin's method and the method of this correspondence. June 19(?), 1949.
37 Letter from Lee to James on Lenin and Bukharin; the Taylor system. July 9, 1949.
38 Nikolai Bukharin Historical Materialism (1921).
39 Work on Dunayevskaya's first major book, Marxism and Freedom, began during her time in the Workers' Party. An eighty page draft outline of the book, provisionally titled State-Capitalism and Marxism, was submitted to Oxford University Press in 1947. In the wake of the West Virginia miners' strike, Dunayevskaya was keen to engage workers in discussion of drafts of the book. In February 1950 she began this process with a discussion of a draft with Grace Lee, CLR James and Jonny Zupan (an auto worker in Detroit, who became the editor of Correspondence, when it became a published paper in 1953). Dunayevskaya rethought the book, in light of these discussions and in the context of her reading of Lenin's Philosophical Notebooks, she began to refer to the book as The Lenin Book. After the split with James and Lee, Dunayevskaya began to refer to the book as Marxism and Freedom and she talked about the twin aims of the book being to discover the American roots of Marxism and to re-establish Marxism in its original form, which Marx called "a thoroughgoing Naturalism or Humanism" (the quote is from Marx's essay on the Hegelian dialectic in his 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts). Drafts of parts of the book were discussed by members of the News and Letters Committees (NLC). She entered into dialogue with a number of different people outside of the NLC, on her work on Marxism and Freedom. Her most extensive correspondence was with Herbert Marcuse, who went on to write the Preface to the first edition of Marxism and Freedom. Twenty-six of these letters, written between February 1955 and October 1957, are available in the Raya Dunayevskaya Archive. At its first Convention, in 1956, the membership of NLC passed a resolution, committing members to taking personal responsibility for selling at least 25 copies of the book 'as founders, and not as merchants' (#2618).
40 The Trade Union debate is a reference to a series of debates within the Communist Party of Russia, in 1920-1921, over the role of trade unions and workers democracy in the USSR. Trotsky argued for the trade unions to be under state control. This was the dominant position within the Party. Alexander Shlyapnikov was a leading figure in the Workers' Opposition, (a faction within the Bolsheviks, 1919-1922), who argued for trade union control over industry. Lenin argued against both Trotsky and Shlyapnikov. He warned that Trotsky's position ran the danger of bureaucratising the Trade Unions. He warned that Shlyapnikov's position created a potential wedge between the Party and the working-class (see e.g. Lenin, 'The Trade Unions. The Present Situation (1920), subtitled 'And Trotsky's Mistakes', 'response to Shlyapnikov and 'Draft Theses on the Role and Functions of The Trade Unions Under the New Economic Policy (1922)). Dunayevskaya wrote about this debate in the first part of Chapter 12 ('What Happens After?') of Marxism and Freedom (1958).
41 Correspondence special issue (Vol. IV., No. 2, April 16, 1953) called 'Then and Now 1920 & 1953' (#2184-2192), on the Trade Union debate in the USSR and its lessons for today.
42 See Note 3 above.
43 Raya Dunayevskaya, 'The Beria Purge', Correspondence, Vol. 1, No. 1, 3 Oct 1953.
44 CLR James had entered, and remained in, the USA on a visitor visa. In 1952, after years of trying to secure US citizenship, James was detained at Ellis Island, as a visa over-stayer. He was held there for several months. During that time he maintained contact with the Correspondence Committees. While in detention he wrote Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In, in an attempt to persuade the authorities to grant him US citizenship. On his release on bail, the book was published by the CC and circulated amongst members of Congress. As another part of his appeal, James gave some public lectures on American and European literature. The strategy of appealing to the authorities was a source of dispute within the CC. His appeal was unsuccessful and, faced with the threat of deportation, he left the US and returned to England in the spring of 1953. He remained the leader of the CC and attempted to direct the organisation from abroad. Grace Lee joined him in London, and worked with him for four months, in 1954, before returning to Detroit.